Rye, Walnut and Cardamom Crescents

Earlier today I heaved a rather large suitcase (heavy from Saturday’s frantic run around Brussels to buy various Christmas presents), a large bag, a laptop bag and a handbag onto the Thalys to take me home to my parents’ place in Essen, Germany. After 14 years of having to fly from various places in Europe to see my family, it is amazing to be able to take a direct train to go home, with no risk of delayed trains or bad traffic to get to the airport or long queues to get through security. Like every year, I am dividing my time between Germany and Italy and after spending Christmas with my family, I will be flying to Rome on Friday to join Alessandro and his friends and family for further Christmas celebrations and to ring in the New Year. After what can only be described as a very ‘full’ year, I am looking forward to a bit of downtime

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Chocolate Garam Masala Snickerdoodles – Goes Well With Coffee – 3rd Edition

This weekend is the first weekend I am spending in Brussels since the beginning of November. While the weather is no different from what it was four weeks ago (Brussels has a tendency to be equally grey and rainy all throughout November to March), there is no denying that Christmas is close – the strings of lights that now connect the buildings on my side of the street with those across the street were the first telltale sign when I came back from my trip to New York over Thanksgiving. The trip itself was everything I could have asked for and more. I slept more than I had in weeks, I tried out some new exercise classes (it turns out I don’t actually hate spinning and Pure Barre is as hard as everyone says it is) and even found a new pair of glasses. But most importantly, I got to hang with my good friend Michelle who didn’t say anything when I

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Spiced Sweet Potato Mont Blanc

  Earlier this year, I started sharing some of my recipes on Food&, a great website bringing together others as obsessed with food as myself to share their stories, photos, recipes or illustrations with the rest of the world. Going forward, I will be working even closer with Food&, as I have just joined their team of contributing editors. To kick things off, the new contributing editors and myself are sharing some Thanksgiving recipes on Food& throughout this week. When the other new editors and myself were discussing what dishes to feature for Thanksgiving week, we quickly agreed we wanted to stay true to the traditional ingredients featured in a Thanksgiving feast but to come up with new recipes based around them. At first, I kept on staring at an empty page when trying to come up with ideas – I did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving and the one Thanksgiving I spent at my friend Laura’s in Minneapolis was

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Roasted Hazelnut, Sea Salt and Date Brownies

Alessandro and I are spending this week on the slopes. Such a ‘settimana bianca’ (a ‘white’ week) is by now a yearly tradition for us. After my first tentative steps on skis on a schooltrip to Austria as a teenager I am now able to tackle almost all slopes and dare I say, even enjoy myself a good deal doing so. While there are a few small slopes not too far from Rome, once you have mastered the basics, they are a bit short and boring. So our yearly ‘settimana bianca’ now takes us up to Northern Italy, to the Dolomites, to San Cassiano in Alta Badia to be precise. A trip we are now doing for the second time with a group of about 10 or so friends. While I feel sorry for anyone else staying in our small hotel given our inevitable loud chatter in the bar after a long day on the slopes (no doubt fuelled by

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Dark Chocolate Truffles with Sichuan Pepper and Orange

I have always enjoyed making truffles at home – they are simple and quick to make (especially if you skip the step of coating your truffles in tempered chocolate) and just make the perfect present, and not just for Valentine’s Day. I mean, who does not like to receive a box of chocolates to eat all by themselves? Besides, chocolate goes well with most things so truffles are a perfect way of playing around with your favourite flavour combinations. I love the combination of chocolate and orange – the bitterness of dark chocolate contrasts nicely with the bright citrus flavour. Being naturally zesty and lemony in flavour, Sichuan pepper pairs equally well with all things citrus. A sichuan pepper, orange and chocolate truffle was thus the logical next step. And while Sichuan pepper is most famous for that tingling feeling it can leave on your lips and tongue, in terms of heat, it is actually quite mild. The recipe for

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Moroccan-inspired Cubeb Pepper Mince Pies

As promised, here is the link to the second recipe I developed for the Peppermongers – a recipe for Moroccan-inspired mincemeat using Cubeb Pepper.  I am clearly a fan of giving mincemeat my own unique twist and this version is inspired by Moroccan Tagines that I so adore and that often include dried fruits like prunes or dried apricots. The mincemeat gets a bit of kick from a generous pinch of cubeb pepper – a key ingredient in Morocco’s famous Ras el hanout spice mix and whose woody ‘Christmas tree’ aroma lends wonderful warmth to the mincemeat.  For our first batch of mince pies this year, I made a rich almond and orange zest pastry filled with this spicy mincemeat and served it with a dollop of crème fraiche flavoured which I had flavoured with orange blossom water.  This is also the mincemeat which made its way into copious batches of mincemeat scones, another delicious way of using up a glut of

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